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May 04, 2010

Magazine publishing on the iPad

I spent some time comparing different approaches to magazine publishing on the iPad. Given the amount of hype about the iPad being the savior of publishing, I am surprised there is not an iMagazine app or some such. I mean, Apple could take the lead here yet again, creating the iTunes of the magazine world.

As is, everyone's doing their own thing, with Zinio, of course, having the lead with its hundreds of electronic titles. Problem is, they're not doing a thing different for the iPad. The PDF versions are faithful 1:1 equivalents of the print mags and it all works well, though a slight lag until each new page snaps into focus is annoying. And I am NOT willing to fill out long, cumbersome forms with address and credit card info to subscribe to a mag when it should all be 1-click.

Time Magazine rolls their own, for now at the absurdly high price of $4.95 per issue. Their approach is sort of a hybrid between PDF and web design and totally new stuff. It's very innovative, but takes some time getting used to. On the other hand, there really is no need to simply transform print to screen, even if it's print retrofitted with electronic stuff (links, video, forms, etc.).

So Time is experimenting. Pictures that may be tiny in a magazine due to space constraints can be large, with text below it and you need to scroll down. When you zoom in to make text readable, pictures don't necessarily zoom with it; they don't need to. And how cool is it to have a full-page portrait of Lady Gaga or Bill Clinton and when you rotate to landscape, it becomes flawless high-definition video and they speak to you.

The iPad brings us another step closer to electronic publishing, a big one. But for now, no one is taking the definite lead. With the iBooks app and iBook store still a million miles behind Amazon, Apple probably has its hands full with filling in the many blanks, and an iMag app and store may not come to pass anytime soon, or ever. So Zinio and others have a window of opportunity, but it'll take more than selling individual mags for US$4.95 (Time) or making people put up with lag and an antediluvian 20th century style signup (Zinio).

Posted by conradb212 at May 4, 2010 12:27 PM